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Morrisville Town


Morrisville Town Hall is located at 100 Town Hall Drive, Morrisville, NC 27560; phone: 919-463-6200.

Beginnings [1]

During the mid 1700s, early settlers came to Central North Carolina in search of abundant farmland and to escape the control of England. Once settled, they found themselves amongst corrupt officials preventing them from obtaining the rich farmland they came in search of. Violence erupted between the early settlers, known as "Regulators" and the governing officials around the area of Alamance County. In 1771, Governor Tryon and his Army set out to the area to calm the revolt. Along the way he stopped and set up camp at what is thought to be the earliest residence in Morrisville, the home of Colonel Tignal Jones along Crabtree Creek. Governor Tryon continued to lead his Army to the revolt and nine days later, on May 16, 1771, the Battle of Alamance occurred, one of many events that contributed to the American Revolutionary War. Wake County was formed as a result of the fighting and an early Morrisville resident, Colonel Jones became one of the earliest leaders for the County.

In the 19th century many settlers recognized that the Town known as Morrisville today was located in a promising area. It was nestled in between the two larger communities of Raleigh and Durham. Major roads began to develop connecting the two hubs and many settled into the Morrisville area for its convenient location. The future Chapel Hill Road (NC 54) followed a ridgeline between two watersheds, while the future Morrisville-Carpenter Road, on the other hand, skirted the higher ground at the edge of the Crabtree Creek floodplain and crossed Chapel Hill Road at a point where the Town Center is now located. Until I-40 was built in the 1980s, NC 54 was the main link between the State's university in Chapel Hill and the State capital in Raleigh, a key factor in the development of Morrisville as a center of activity in the region. Large farms were settled in the Morrisville area, with names like Morris, Allen, Scott, and Barbee. In the late 1820s, the Shiloh community north of Morrisville was settled by freeborn African Americans and freed former slaves. The defining moment for the Town of Morrisville was the construction of the rail line and depot that eventually connected the coastal areas to Wake County in the mid 1850s. The railroad was part of a grand civic project to connect Charlotte and Goldsboro through the Piedmont and spur economic development in the state. The rail line naturally followed the high ground for ease of construction and closely paralleled Chapel Hill Road. A local resident and Morrisville's namesake, Jeremiah Morris, donated several acres to the rail company for the construction of a rail yard and depot. The rail stop in Morrisville allowed the community to trade crops with areas outside Morrisville as well as to obtain goods and materials to rebuild the community. The skirmish at Morrisville, which occurred near the end of the Civil War in 1865, caused significant physical damage in the area. The railroad tracks served as a unifying or centralizing influence on the growth of the rural settlement. By the 1870s Morrisville became a popular stop along the rail line due to the growing number of businesses in the area and its location at the crossroads. The Town of Morrisville incorporated in 1875 with a population of 165 residents.

The rail line continued to be a necessity for the flourishing of Morrisville, but the residents and businesses also relied on automobile travel through the town. In 1924, the first road in town, Highway 10, was paved and many businesses grew along the road for the convenience of travelers. The economy had begun to flourish for the town, but the depression of the 1930's brought on hardships. The Town's charter was repealed in 1933 and wasn't restored until 1947. For nearly forty years, the Town did not see much change until the creation of the Research Triangle Park (RTP), an area developed just northwest of Morrisville in 1959. RTP sought to attract high-tech research and development companies such as IBM and Glaxo Smith Kline. Morrisville's economy improved as businesses supporting RTP companies and the shipping activity through Raleigh-Durham International Airport located in the town. Major residential development came later, as employees of the research companies moving into RTP made Morrisville their home due to its convenient location. By 2000, the population of Morrisville had grown to 5,208 and in 2006 the population had more than doubled to 13,501.

  1. Town of Morrisville, North Carolina, Morrisville Land Use Plan: 2009-2035, 2009, www.nc-morrisville.civicplus.com, accessed March, 2011.
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